City facing a serious test in bid to get off to a flier

Emma Montiel was the first woman home in the 243rd Southsea parkrun. Picture: Duncan Shepherd

IN PICTURES: Southsea parkrun 243

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City of Portsmouth will be battling against the odds as they get their UK Women’s League division two campaign up and running tomorrow.

Cardiff host the first of the three summer league track and field meetings.

As well as the Welsh club, City will also be taking on Bristol & West, Havering, Herne Hill Harriers, Milton Keynes, Newham & Essex Beagles and Reading.

It’s a high-standard competition and City are not at full strength.

A number of top runners are unavailable for the trip to Wales – including Emma Montiel, who recently set a new personal best at the Lakeside 5k.

City coach Peter Newton is expecting a tough start to the league campaign.

He said: ‘We’re punching above our weight a little bit here.

‘Our main problem this weekend is several of our athletes are away at university, with exams imminent.

‘We are short in some areas, particularly middle distance.’

Hurdlers Mandy Gault and Claire Netley will spearhead the City challenge tomorrow, along with sprinters Hollie Fudge and Sam Vaile.

City will also hope to pick up points in the throws, with Ros Stansbury, Susie Wise and javelin thrower Holly Webb, who is a new addition to the ranks.

Claudia Cubbage will also be aiming to pick up points across a number of events.

Newton added: ‘It’s very competitive – the division below us has top clubs like City of Liverpool, Leeds, Belgrave Harriers and Aldershot, Farnham & District. That shows the standard we are competing at.

‘But we have a good, compact squad.

‘I expect Mandy Gault to go well in the 400m hurdles.

‘She’s going for a Commonwealth qualifying time.’

The second match in the league takes place on Sunday, June 8 at Newham.

Unfortunately for City, it clashes with the 25th D Day 10k race, hosted by the club in Portsmouth on the same day.

Then the third and final league meeting of the season will be at the Mountbatten Centre on Sunday, July 6.

The top two teams get promoted, with the bottom two teams dropping to division three.